Sunday, February 27, 2011

A great race, a PR and a hat trick (almost)

Success is having faith-Failure is being afraid: 
Part of having faith is having a belief that good things are going to happen to you and through you. Being afraid is having a belief that bad things are going to happen to you. Whatever you believe, you will create the circumstances to confirm that belief. You will seek and find examples and situations that proves you are right. - Keith Cameron Smith

Well, this has ended up being a great weekend as a whole.  The qoute can be taken 2 ways if you don't yet know how my Half Marathon ended.....Either that I suceeded or I failed.  Glass half full, glass half empty.
This morning was the "Last Chance for Boston" Half Marathon.  Before I start, since I've been asked, the reason it is called this was back in the day when the race was formed, this was the "Last Chance" for those looking to qualify for Boston later in the year.  Recently they changed things up and moved the deadline to qualify.  But the organizers, rather than make up a new name and confuse people, kept it the same.  People can still qualify, but the times would be recognized for the following year.
Today's goal seemed simple....Obviously I wanted to finish the race, but I wanted to finish it without stopping.  I also wanted to break 2 hours for the first time....and my friend Jodi, who is one of the girls I'm running with in Cleveland, her best time in a half was 1:51, so we kicked around the idea of breaking 1:50
Goal #1 - Finish the race, start to finish, without stopping.  Done - Oh, but there were some close calls, including one where I felt like I was blacking out...More on that later
Goal #2 - Break 2 Hours.  Done - Not in the typical fashion, granted....But hey, the whole part is the experience.  (Thanks Jodi)
Goal #3 - Break 1:50.  Failed - Ok, before I go on, I need to explain as Jodi and I have caught some slack for this "plan".  Some seem to feel that it was "not realistic" of me to try for this, since I've never even broken 2 hours.  While normally I may agree.  But the last few weeks (for the most part) I have felt fantastic.  I have even been trying to do all my runs at an 8:23 pace (or faster), which is something we needed in order to break 1:50  Now, add in the course layout.  A 1-Mile loop, NO hills.  A perfect course, and proven, for people to set PR's.  With the way training has felt and the set-up, I know it seemed tough, but for me, it was a no-brainer and I could not pass up the opportunity to help a friend achieve a goal.  Most I've done at that pace is 6 miles was a bit wary.  We should have taken into account the fact that Jodi has run a Half Marathon the past 2 weeks, so this would be the 3rd week in a row.  Either way, I don't regret it at all, and while I'm slightly disappointed, everything else makes it all better.
So for me, still got the hat trick (ps - hockey term for 3 goals scored)  :-)

The website had the splits for us and everything, so here is my mile by mile, blow by blow journey....Drink caffeine now so you don't fall asleep.  heehee

Sunday - "Last Chance for Boston" Half Marathon  (1:57:41) Average Pace per mile (8:59)

1.1:    9:03
The way the course layed out, we started the 0.1 mile before the finish line, so the first mile included that.  The start of the race was crazy.  Ended up being over 500 participants and we only had half the road, so yes, it was a bit cramped.  The 5K and 1/2 Marathon started first and the 10K and Full Marathon start a few minutes after and a tenth of a mile back.
I was anxious to get started, still happy the rain and snow never showed as they projected earlier in the week.  I admit, since I have done most of my runs on a treadmill, I have nooooo clue about pacing (Hence the reason Jodi was there, expert pacer)  I usually set pace on treadmill and run, pretty easy.  Well, the gun goes off and we start weaving in and out to avoid the joggers and walkers.  Felt great but in the back of my mind, sorta frustrated with the traffic, so I tried to clear some pace.  The first mile was completed and I asked Jodi how slow we ran....Ya, she tells me 8:11....I was shocked and I could tell she was thinking I was nuts.  I guess we started out quick, which was good (Hey, there was warning I'm clueless to pace times)
2:    8:20
By the second mile, the crowd spread out, so that was good.  Still felt off, but I was staying focused on my form, with one eye making sure I stayed with Jodi and another eye on the runners ahead...My third eye had to be one the runners flying by us.  Some seemed rather peaved if they yelled "On left" and you didn't immediately move for them.
3:    8:27
Mile 3 felt just as good, we had banked some extra time, so just had to keep a smooth pace.  Outlook was great and was enjoying the race.
4:    8:33
I believe Mile 4 was when we started getting lapped by the Full Marathoners.  You could tell which one's they were based on the fact they were the skinny people who looked like real runners and flying by us (Full Marathon winner finished in 2:48, which is a 6:27 pace per mile...holy fast)  It was this mile where I started to notice Jodi was a bit off, not in regards to pace, but her look.  She seemed to struggle, but I could tell she was trying not to show it.  I couldn't tell if it was the pace, her hamstring or 3 straight weeks of half marathons catching up to her.
5:    8:30
The only thing I focused on this mile was getting Jodi to stay positive and believe in herself.  I realize she does, but the minute you shutdown, it's tough to recharge.  And in my delusional mind we were going to do this.
6:    8:39
This was the turning point, both good and bad for us.  After mile 6 she mentioned our split and I just said how about we drop 1:50 from the plan and just enjoy the rest of the race and just get me under 2 hours.  The look on her face was priceless and the next words out of her mouth were "thank God".  I guess my instincts were correct.  But we figured after this mile, while we were around 50 minutes and still looking good as a time, we just couldn't keep the pace going.....and the weight was lifted off of her and somehow, I added some as it was a struggle
7:    8:49
Over half way completed....If I recall, it was around this time I stopped asking for our split time for the next few miles.  I could see the overall time each pass and knew we were in ballpark range, no worries though, confident in breaking 2 hours with ease.
8:    9:04
While technically not down the homestretch, instead of counting how many miles we have run, it's how many miles left.  Not a good idea, since if I've learned anything with my training runs, when my mind hears "miles left", he takes it as close to done and tries to shut down.  First mile over 9 minutes, BUT still under 2 hour pace.
9:    9:31
Mile 9 is one that I will remember as the one that almost won.  We had been at it for over an hour now and while I was taking in water the last few miles, I still had yet to have my gel pack.  Ideally, I should have refueled around the 1 hour mark.  Halfway thru mile 9, my legs started to get heavy and something was not feeling right.  I turned one of the corners, ran about 10 feet and started veering to the right, then all the way left, almost falling over and blacking out.  Luckily for me, a guy was passing me on the left and he sort of held me up, ask if I was ok and kept going.  Jodi obviously had no clue, since I had fallen back about 5-10 body lengths.  I immediately opened up the gel pack, but still had not stopped, but was seriously considering it.  But he was not going to win....
10:    9:24
My mind on mile 10 was playing games with me.  I knew after mile 9 that we were still clear sailing to break 2 hours, as long as I stayed focus.  Part of me was trying to forget about mile 9, part of me was focusing on how many miles we had left and part of me was just focused on staying positive and finishing.
11:    9:39
Mile 11 brought flashbacks of the 10 mile training run I had with Jodi and Jenn a few weeks back.  Jenn would fall back a bit and I would slide back with her, reminding her to stay positive, since after falling back she was literally running the same pace as us.  Well, THAT was what was in my head.  I realized I was about 10-15 feet behind Jodi but we were running the same pace (she knew what she was doing)  :-)
12:    9:57
Mile 12 was obviously my slowest mile.  My mind and body was in shutdown mode.  The only thing I kept thinking was "one leg in front of the other, one leg in front of the other"  In a way, I'm impressed and shocked the last few miles were even under a 10 minute mile pace.  It felt alot slower but it didn't matter because.....
13:    9:50
The final mile.  Obviously in a perfect world and as I envisioned it the last few weeks, we would be on pace to break 1:50 and sprint towards the finish.  Life's not perfect, so to the present.  I check my watch every 1/4 mile.  Just to keep reaffirming to myself that as long as I just move then it'll be great.  I believe checking my watch made the last mile that much longer.  My form sucked, my body hurt, but I was not stopping.  I kept trying to keep pace with Jodi.  As we made the turn for the last 1/4 mile, she slowed down until I caught up so we could cross....The finish line....Under 2 hours.  Both of us were spent and she laughed as my legs nearly gave out and gave her a hug, kind of forcing her to hold me upright until we got the the table to collect our finishers medal and hand in our time chips.
It was a good 3-4 minutes before I could get my balance, sucked down a few cups of Gatorade and headed inside to the runners lounge they had set up.  Bananas, oranges, bagels, juice, water....never tasted so good.  We sat down to stretch and while we were stretching, we met members of the Urbana University soccer team.  As a fundraiser, the whole team "had" to run the half marathon.  It was funny listening to the stories of the race.  One guy joked how his nipples were bleeding since he didn't cover them up (to that Jodi responded...they make guards for that...LOL)  Stayed at least an hour (or so it seemed) to stretch and then I left to my ice bath.

All in all, it was a great weekend.  They say the first time doing something should be something you remember.  While big picture this training process has been about completing my first ever Marathon in May, I will always remember the first time breaking 2 hours and how cool it was, since it was different than most.
Would it have been easier to just say, run a 9:09 pace......sure, but that's boring. 
Would it have been cool to do it some city downtown with lots of scenery....sure, but where's the story in that. 
Of course as I write this, the one part that does not like the fact I just did IT Band....Ouchieeeeeeee, walking down steps sucks, then again so does walking in general.  Good thing I have the chiropractor (aka the witch doctor) tomorrow and debating a massage later in the week.
And yes, Jodi, I so appreciate you driving down from Cleveland to pace me (when you should have been running 15 miles with  So THANK YOU!......You, Jenn and I are sooooo going to be finishing a marathon in May....

Until next time.....


  1. Yeah, I said on my blog that your story would be much better than mine! :) It was truly a pleasure to get you that sub 2 and to hold you up at the finish line! :) Oh and YOU ARE WELCOME!!

  2. You guys did great out there! Congrats on the sub-2 PR!!! Can't wait to meet you all in Cleveland!!!! 11 more weeks!